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Do I need child travel consent as a single person?

Unfortunately the answer to this question is not a simple yes or no and it depends on whether the other parent holds Parental Responsibility in respect of the child.

What is Parental Responsibly and who has it?

Parental Responsibility is defined in the Children Act 1989 as the “rights, duties, powers, responsibilities and authority which by law a parent of a child has in relation to the child and his property.”

A mother automatically has Parental Responsibility in respect of the child.  A father who is married to the mother at the time of the child’s birth will automatically have Parental Responsibility and unmarried fathers will have Parental Responsibility in respect of the child if their name is on the child’s birth certificate after 1 December 2003.

Parental Responsibility can be acquired in the following circumstances:

  • A father who does not hold Parental Responsibility in respect of the child can enter into a Parental Responsibility agreement with the mother and arrange for the agreement to be filed with the court or he can apply to the court for a Parental Responsibility order.
  • Step parents can obtain Parental Responsibility if they are married to the mother or they are a civil partner of a parent who holds Parental Responsibility in respect of the child and they either:
  1. Enter into a Parental Responsibility agreement with the parents who hold Parental Responsibility in respect of the child and file the agreement with the court; or
  2. Apply to the court for a Parental Responsibility order.
  • Individuals who obtain a “lives with order” in respect of the child automatically acquire Parental Responsibility.
  • Individuals who adopt a child automatically acquire Parental Responsibility.

So when do you need consent to travel?

If you intend to take the child outside of the jurisdiction of England and Wales then you must obtain the consent of all individuals who hold Parental Responsibility in respect of the child.  Although it is not strictly necessary, it would be prudent to have written confirmation of the consent given.  This does not need to be formal and a text message / email would be sufficient.

If the father does not hold Parental Responsibility in respect of the child, then you do not need to obtain his consent to travel outside the jurisdiction of England and Wales.

If you have a “lives with order” in respect of the child, you can take the child out of the jurisdiction of England and Wales for a period of one month without obtaining the consent of all those who hold Parental Responsibility in respect of the child.  However, it would be advisable to inform the non-resident parent of the holiday and details of when you will return.  Although a “lives with order” allows you to take the child outside the jurisdiction of England and Wales for a period of one month, you cannot breach a “spends time with order.”  Therefore, you must ensure that your travel plans do not interfere with the non-resident parent’s time with the child, which has been ordered by the court.

 What steps can I take if the other parent withholds their consent?

If the other parent unreasonably withholds their consent to you taking the child on holiday outside the jurisdiction of England and Wales, you can apply to the court for a Specific Issues order so that the court can determine the issue.

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